Teaching High Schoolers

High school (grades 9-12 or ages 15-18) is a huge turning point for many students. Career ideas will begin to formulate with decisions about college (what to study, where to go, should I even go?) and the pressure to enter the adult world ready or not. Teaching music at any age is beneficial, but especially at the high school level when so many choices need to be made.

The typical high schooler is:

  • Faced with more complex issues and an increased ability to think critically about solutions.
  • More independent but reliant on friends and their social circle over family.
  • More self aware about their capabilities and position in society.
  • Busy! Large and difficult class loads, part time jobs, college applications, extracurriculars, etc.

Private music lessons in high school will begin to focus more on performance than in previous years. Teachers need to tailor lessons based on the post-high school intentions of the student.  

  • Preparing for contests/competitions; State or regionals
  • College auditions; especially important for students hoping to snag a place at the top performance universities and conservatories.

How you can best serve your high school students:

  • You are a role model now more than ever. Be up front with the joys and challenges of majoring in music and entering the business. Your students will look to you for advice and want to learn from your experience.
  • Ask questions that require complex thought. Gently push your students to start thinking in terms of action and consequence. Help them see that their musical abilities extend beyond the notes on the page or what their fingers are doing.
  • Include student on deciding repertoire and how to practice. Your students need to be self guided in their study and practice habits. No more hand holding and practice checks. They should want to do the work on their own.

Music is a huge social aspect and holds more value to students. For many high schoolers, music is the glue that holds the entire day together. Encourage your students to play in school ensembles or groups with friends. High schoolers will soon find more importance in their instrument and abilities.

Explore more tips and tricks when teaching middle schoolers or adults.